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Recession Boosts Biz for Beauty Schools

Thanks to the economy, people are changing careers, cutting back on luxuries, and attempting to save whenever possible. Just ask beauty students across the country. For them, the cutbacks are good, since they're seeing an influx of clientele who want to get their cut, color, manis and pedis done, but don't want to necessarily pay top dollar.

As more and more consumers turn to beauty schools that offer low-cost services administered by students, education programs lke those at Empire Beauty Schools are also benefitting from the value.  Students and instructors can attest to enjoying the valuable opportunities to practice and perfect their craft on real clients.  It's all about having a chance to make a new start in a workforce that's anything but "pretty."

Mannequins Instead of Textbooks
At cosmetology and beauty schools like Empire, the focus is on preparing students for a successful beauty career. That translates into not only classroom lessons, but lots of real-world practice so that once students graduate, they'll be equipped with what they need to be successful. Beauty school students may start on mannequins, but they quickly advance to real people in a student salon. Once there, they go into "professional" mode, working on clients who willingly come into the student salon for their regular beauty services, often at free and discounted rates.

According to John Doucette, director of the Empire Education Group's student salon services, beauty schools have seen increases across the board, including their student enrollments, which was evident in just one year -- from May 2008 to May 2009 -- at 33% nationwide. Not only is the influx of recent high school graduates a constant, he says, but many new students hail from other professions. "Many individuals have chosen to change their career because [the beauty industry] is viewed as more stable, with incredibly flexible employment options." Doucette explains.

Student Salons Prepare Future Stylists for Success
For Cheryl Gardner, making the decision to attend beauty school meant paving the way to a career she'd enjoy after raising her three children. And although she hasn't finished her degree just yet, Gardner feels that Empire Beauty School's Whitehall, PA campus has prepared her already, especially through her work in the student salon. "I feel I'm more confident than I was before I started school. I am educated and experienced enough to go and get a job," she says.

Such training is key to students' success and is also proving to attract recessionistas into the student salons. By promoting and creating specials that are a great deal lower than a standard salon, Doucette is pleased with the clientele his student salons are servicing.  And although some may still be skeptical of getting a haircut in a salon where stylist experience is low, Doucette feels that it's definitely not a disadvantage. 

"Students have had time to develop their skills to execute a high-quality service as well as give a quality experience to salon guests. The only downside would be that guests sometimes do not realize that it takes a bit longer to complete a service than in a normal salon," he says. "We would never rush a guest's service to compromise the quality of the student's education and the results of the service. We pride ourselves in giving students the opportunity to finely hone their skills under the instruction of a certified instructor." 

Gardner believes the real-world experience – and the demand for her student services – is something that has helped her greatly. "The first time I did a service, I was shy. But since then I've grown. The hands-on experience and learning how an actual salon runs is a great system."